LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — As students head back to school this August, an increase of new drivers will be hitting the roads.
Here in Las Vegas, officials have seen an influx of crashes, fatalities, and tragedies. Shocking enough, many of these incidents are caused by teen drivers.
During the year 2019 The Nevada Traffic Safety Department reported, “There were a total of 169 fatalities and 161 fatal young driver crashes during this time frame.”
Although these numbers reflect a drastic decrease from 2015 to 2019, the amount of car crash fatalities still rank high in the city average.
With 78% of fatal car crashes being within the Clark County roadways, a large fraction of these fatalities occurs near or within designated school areas.
Why is it that young drivers are making up 10.6% of fatalities here in the valley?
After speaking to the Nevada Department of Public Safety’s Andrew Bennett, we learned that “in total there have been approximately 194 fatalities on the Nevada roadways, which is a 30% increase from this time last year…”
“And it’s also the worse numbers we have seen in the past decade, with teen drivers making up 10% of those crashes.”
This means of the 194 fatalities, teen drivers made up 19-20 of the car crashes -- resulting in fatal injuries or death.
As car crash and fatalities statistics increase for Nevada Teen drivers, so does the urgency to increase safety in school zones and crosswalks.
Police officials and the Traffic Safety Department have taken steps to increase students' knowledge on car crash safety as well as increasing the amount of guidance within school zones.
Clark County School District Police Department's Sgt. Bryan Zink stated, “In the year 2019 there were approximately 2,400 fatalities in the United States that involved teen drivers.”
Many of those drivers were on the roadways without any permits or driver’s licenses. Data shows approximately 200 teenagers were caught in the year 2019 without a driver’s license with the majority of these teen drivers being caught in school zones or crosswalk areas.
Although fatality numbers continue to rise, there are a few people in the Las Vegas/Clark County area that are taking the necessary steps to decrease the number of car crashes, especially for the upcoming school year.
Erin Breen, who works for the Traffic Safety Coalition, said, “The Traffic Safety Coalition focuses on the five different ways kids travel to school, with one the most important days focusing on teen drivers.”
The Annual National Summer Transportation Institute took place on July 2, which invited student drivers (free of to the public) to attend an eight-hour-long session to help students learn more about teen safety on roadways.
This program, along with other incentives from the Nevada Safety Traffic Department, has made teen driver safety an educational priority for both new and upcoming young drivers.
Sessions included: DUI Processing, Fatal Crash Detectives, Crash Reenactment and Stories from families who lost a young driver due to fatalities.
Now in the post-pandemic environment, many kids will be back to in-person classrooms, which increases the number of young drivers back on the road for the school year.
CCSD police say, “We have acknowledged the recent increase in teen fatalities and have decided to partner with the Office of Traffic and Safety here in Nevada to implement a new program titled Zero Teen Fatalities.”
This new grant would provide a designated Traffic Safety Officer to high schools and create partnerships with faculty and staff to implement the Zero Teen Fatality program in classrooms.
Driving can be an exciting experience for new drivers, but safety is always the main focus. For the upcoming school year, young drivers should:
- Buckle up at all times
- Check all blind-spots
- Drive with a Licensed driver if on the road with a permit
- Practice on the road before entering busy roadways or school zones